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Westray Natural History, Page 3

the natural history of Westray

Black Guillemot - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Black Guillemots and Butterfish

Butterfish are the Black Guillemot’s most common catch. Here’s a Butterfish which is deep red and still wriggling. Black Guillemots usually grip …

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Moving air to light

Arctic Terns move between air and water, between north and south, between being territorial and migratory, between Arctic and Antarctic. Their life …

Wheatear - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Golden light

The light is incredible on the west coast of Westray. It’s golden, and reflects beautifully off the Atlantic onto the rocky coast. …

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Stares

The word Starling means little Stare, a young Stare, a juvenile Stare. Stare is what adult Starlings were always called until everyone …

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Trainee wings

There are young Arctic Terns here which have yet to get their full adult plumage. Smart, aren’t they? We’ve walked a mile …

Arctic Terns - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The dance

We’re on Mainland Orkney for a few days because my car needs an MOT. That’s a happy circumstance, because it gives us …

Skylark - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Exhaustion

Skylark, exhausted after all that shouting from on high.

Gannet - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Arrow

As the weather in Orkney has been so idyllic, I’ve been out with my camera for many, many hours, including sitting on …

Silverleaf - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Silverweed on coral beach

Calling a plant as wonderful as this Potentilla a weed seems deeply unfair, but that’s botany for you. The underside of the …

Wheatear - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Westside Wheatears

I’ve taken to walking the Westside of Westray. Yes, I’ve been taking a Walk on the Westside. The glorious weather has meant …

Puffin - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

At night I dream of the Ocean

This Atlantic Puffin has come to rest on the low, grassy cliffs, where its burrow faces the North Sea. It flaps its …

Rock Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Rock Pipit

This Rock Pipit on the coast of Westray reminds me… I must plump up my duvet when I make my bed.

Oystercatcher - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Return to Oystercatcher beach

I can’t resist their orange good looks. Birds with red plumage have enhanced vision in the red of the spectrum. I wonder …

Black Guillemot with fish - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The fish dance

Black Guillemots like to display their fish on the cliffs. It would be a shame not to spend some time appreciating their …

Great Black Backed Gull - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I can’t resist a flypast

Whenever there’s a Great Black Backed Gull flying past I just can’t resist taking a portrait. I love their faces. Am I …

Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Flashy wings

The go-faster stripes on this Great Skua are very distinctive. They’re very Starsky & Hutch and their 1976 Ford Gran Torino.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Arctic Terns at sunset

We’ve been out with the Arctic Terns this evening and I’ve loved seeing their behaviour. They interact with all the other bird …

Oystercatcher - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Attention-seekers

Waders. They’re either nearly invisible, clad in the most extreme camouflage possible, or they’re Oystercatchers. This Oystercatcher was attempting to get my …

Meadow Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Stayin’ Alive

Many birds have short and difficult lives. Every day is a struggle to find food and shelter, find a mate, raise a …

Oystercatcher - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Old Carrot-Face is noisy today

Oystercatchers are a noisy fact of life here on Westray. There’s not a spot of coastline which isn’t guarded by some zealous …

Ringed Plover - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

A scuttling Sandy Laverock

The Orkney name for Ringed Plover is Sandy Laverock. It’s a beautiful name for a beautiful bird. They appear to be always …

Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Bonxies

Bonxie is the name for the Great Skua, Stercorarius skua, here in Orkney. It’s the Norse name for them. If you’ve ever …

Wheatear - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Chuckie

A walk up the west coast of Westray revealed several pairs of Wheatear, which are very active at the moment. They’re exceptionally …

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

From a mile away

I’m at least a mile away from the Arctic Tern colony here when one passes overhead. It’s clearly not found enough to …

Arctic Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Incoming!

We spent an amazing evening with the Scootie Allans of Westray. Arctic Skuas are beautiful, impressive birds, with sleek bodies and swept-back …

Skylark - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Skylarking

An evening walk in the warm, low sun and there is a pair of Skylarks in the field. They’re difficult to get …

Fulmar - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Mallimack surprise

The Fulmars on Westray are littering the coast with their ungainly earthly forms, as well as flying effortlessly along the cliffs with …

Fulmar and Arctic Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

A Scootie Allan attacking a Mallimack

A Scootie Allan attacking a Mallimack. An Arctic Skua attacking a Fulmar. A Stercorarius parasiticus attacking a Fulmarus glacialis. Dramatic, isn’t it, in …